Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis (Thur., Apr. 19, 2012)

Santa Anita’s final week of racing for the 2011-12 season begins with a Thursday program that offers the first baby race of the year, a two furlong dash that kicks off the eight race program. From what we’ve been able to gather #2 Bertrandos Express, #4 Panfila and #9 Confederate Recon all have done enough in the morning to indicate some ability so if you’re playing any early rolling exotics you should consider using at least these three somewhere on your ticket.

The second race is a tough downhill turf sprint for entry level allowance runners; we’re going to focus on #3 Stromberg and #5 Warren’s Dr. Yang. The former has improved a bunch since joining the Mike Mitchell barn and has the ideal stalking style for this trip, while the latter has developed into a course specialist with a pair of recent very impressive wins vs. softer foes and looks like the one to beat once again. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.

The third race is a below par maiden claiming sprint for $30,000 3-year-olds and if he can avoid trouble from the rail #1 Outperform should finally earn his diploma. The Hendricks-trained gelding has no early speed so there’s a strong possibility he’ll be shuffled back early; however, he gets an extra furlong to work with today and looks capable of producing the last run against what on paper is a pretty woeful group.

The fourth race is a restricted (nw-2) nine furlong turf event that should be made to order for the Mullins-trained #1 Clearance Clarence. A fast-finishing third (beaten a neck) vs. similar affair over a mile last month, the son of Cryptoclearance has the benefit of an additional furlong today and should be able to produce the last run. Rosario, who may have had this gelding too far back last time, stays aboard. #8 Gothics Peak, beaten a head as the pacesetter in the same race Clearance Clarence exits, looks very much like the controlling speed under Talamo and will take them on the front end as far as he can.

Maiden claimers sprint five furlongs in the fifth race and this is a race you should consider spreading in your rolling exotics. We’ll try to survive using just three. #1 Cheese Danish flashed some zip in her debut before weakening; the Koriner-trained filly shortens up a half furlong and looks dangerous on the front end from the rail. #3 Arinyes Love, in the money in her last four, has shown the ability to pass a few late and may be the most dangerous of the closers/stalkers. #7 H. J.’s Kitty is improving for Bernstein, switches to Talamo, and with another forward move today could be along in time.

The sixth race is a $10,000 claiming miler that looks fairly wide open and is another race that may require a spread. #1 Devils Afleet moves up a notch following a Diodoro claim, gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Flores and should be prominent throughout from his good rail post. #2 Titian seems like the one to beat based strictly on speed figures; the O’Neill-trained gelding takes a realistic class drop and returns to the main track while retaining Vergara. # 5 Cut Fastball stretches out after a series of sprints; he’s won two-turning in the past and could possibly try gate-to-wire tactics with the switch to Gutierrez. These are the three we’ll be using; you may find the need to go a bit deeper.

The seventh race feature is a powerful second-level allowance/optional claiming sprint; several of these have won or placed in stakes. #2 Derive, in fact, captured two added money events recently including the Phoenix Gold Cup and if can transfer his Turf Paradise form to Santa Anita he can be a strong threat once again. Our top selection, though, is #3 Saddleranch, below form in his comeback when used hard from the rail but a much better colt than that and likely to show it today. The Baffert-trained son of Vindication has come back to breeze very impressively – including a recent drill with Bodemeister in which he actually looked the better of the two – and if steps forward today he can regain his winning form. A case also can be made for #6 Hoorayforhollywood (dangerous from off the pace) and #7 Courtside (the Cal Cup Sprint winner last fall over this track).

The finale is a high priced maiden claiming turf mile affair for 3-year-old fillies and is another that looks fairly wide open. #2 Cavalletta, runner-up in a similar event last month, may have a bit of improvement in her and should enjoy a nice ground-saving trip from her good inside draw. #4 Light of Life has been chasing tougher without much success and should appreciate this considerably easier spot; she has improving numbers and enough tactical speed to gain a favorable early position. #6 Sabouli is another first-time-in-a-claimer play and makes a positive jockey switch to Talamo; she might appreciate being anchored early and allowed to run late.